Before the rise of TikTok, you could find Kris Collins on Vine.
Collins posted for a while before the short-form video network was shut down in 2016. Then, four years later, she found a place on TikTok under the handle “Kall Me Kris,” which has amassed over 40 million followers and made her the most popular TikToker in Canada. But given Vine’s fate, Collins knew she couldn’t only create on one platform, so she branched out to YouTube and Twitch. “You never know what’s going to happen,” she said.
“I am all about stability, and even doing this job, I think it took me 10 months and over 10 million followers to even quit my hairdressing job,” Collins told Protocol. “To be on one platform and to put all my eggs in one basket seemed a little irresponsible, at least for me.”
The single-platform creator is dead, according to Jamie Byrne, YouTube’s senior director of Creative Partnerships. “If you went back two years … you were a YouTuber or you were on Musical.ly or you were an Instagrammer,” Byrne said in an interview with Hootsuite. “Today, it’s table stakes as a creator that you have to be multiplatform.” Collins said being on multiple platforms gives her greater financial stability, helps her avoid burnout and allows her to reach more audience demographics.
As creators spread out, platforms are borrowing ideas and features from each other. Instagram and YouTube are following TikTok with their own short-form video clones; TikTok is trailing YouTube in introducing longer videos. Even Reddit and Pinterest are trying to appease users with their own tools. Sites are also offering monetary incentives — such as tip jars and “creator funds” — to keep social media stars from leaving the platforms and to attract new ones.
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But Collins said even though platforms are becoming more alike, each space serves a different purpose. On TikTok, Collins is an actress. On YouTube, she’s a vlogger. On Twitch, she can let loose and hang out with fans. And on Instagram, she’s just your everyday person. She said she’s had to organize her daily planner in order to accommodate the different platforms. “It's a little bit of organized chaos,” she said. “I have periods of time that I devote to coming up with the ideas. I have a TikTok column, I have a YouTube column, I have an Instagram column, I have a Twitch column. And then I write down, ‘OK, this is going to be the next five weeks of videos.’”
Collins said she treats TikTok like a “sketch comedy” show, where she builds out and creates skits around various characters like “Katrina” and “Chad.” She’s designed over 30 different characters so far, and she writes scripts around each of those people. “All my characters are my babies,” she said. “That’s what TikTok is to me.”
Even though TikTok has been introducing longer video formats, Collins said she typically doesn’t post a video longer than a minute and 30 seconds to keep viewers engaged. She’s tried making videos between two to three minutes long, but her analytics showed that they weren’t being watched all the way through. “I don't see myself doing longer formats on TikTok at any point,” she said. “Otherwise, I would definitely burn out.” That’s because even a minute-long video can take up to four hours to create. “I’ve tried to focus on quality over quantity,” she said.
Another reason Collins doesn’t need to start making longer videos on TikTok: She’s already on YouTube, where her account has garnered over 5.5 million subscribers. Collins said she uses the space in typical YouTube fashion, through vlogs, Q&As and unboxing and reaction videos. “People get to know me for me, rather than through a character that I've created on TikTok,” she said.
Collins said that unlike TikTok, she has an editor for her YouTube posts to help her focus on filming and writing scripts. And because her YouTube videos are typically 10 to 17 minutes long, she only posts about twice per week. She said she usually doesn’t repost her TikToks to her YouTube channel unless the video did particularly well, in which case she’ll post it as a Short.
She uses Instagram Reels much the same way. While Collins primarily uses the platform to post photos of the behind-the-scenes parts of her life, she sometimes reposts her TikToks to Instagram as Reels because some people don't have access to TikTok in their country. Collins said she doesn’t take Instagram “too seriously.” “Instagram is a little less stressful,” she said. “I allow myself to recycle content there, and then just post fun photos.”
Twitch, on the other hand, is like Collins’ online getaway. “Twitch is my escape from having to script or create anything, and I just get to play games and talk to my audience live,” she said. “[I] hang out with the people that keep me employed.”
Collins said that while she enjoys livestreaming on TikTok, the platform takes a “heavy sum” — reportedly 50% — from Live Gifts, which is TikTok’s version of tip jars. Many creators, including Collins, opt to go live on Twitch or Instagram instead. Instagram doesn’t take a cut from its live gifting feature, Badges, and Twitch reportedly takes its cut from people buying the Bits, not from the creators. Twitch declined to comment on its revenue share.
Now, Collins has about eight streams of revenue coming in from platforms, brand deals and merchandise sales. Collins said she manages her income through a platform called Able, which is designed for self-employed people to keep track of their finances. “It can get very disorganized, and really, really stressful as a self-employed person,” she said. “You get paid at different times and everything.”
Adapting to and finding a place on different platforms as they change isn’t frustrating; in fact, TikTok creator Becca Bastos called it “exciting” because it helps her get more visibility. Bastos became a full-time creator last month, and she’s now in the process of creating her first YouTube channel.
“The more people see it, the more opportunities you’ll get and the more it will reach,” she told Protocol. “For something that you work so hard writing, editing, posting and recording, you want as many people to see it as possible.”